About a million people call Oʻahu their home. Around 17,000 live on North Shore. Contrast that with the 350,964 residents living in Urban Honolulu, and you’ll start to get a sense just how different the North Shore can feel from busy Honolulu.  

If you’re moving to Oʻahu and looking for a laid-back lifestyle—something that offers a more rural feel than what you’d find around Honolulu—the North Shore might be perfect for you. 


In this article, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know if you’re considering a move to the North Shore: the best places to live, where to look for work (if you don’t already have a job lined up!), where to shop, and what to do to maximize your time off. 

Moving to Oʻahu’s North Shore

By many definitions, Oʻahu’s North Shore officially stretches from Kaʻena Point at the northwest tip of Oʻahu to Kahuku Point at the northeastern tip.


However, when you say “North Shore, Oʻahu,” most people think of what’s called the seven-mile miracle. There, you’ll find an incredible stretch of beaches with world-class waves known the world around. Between Haleʻiwa Beach Park and Sunset Beach, you’ll find legendary breaks like Pipeline and Waimea, where relatively unknown surfers have made a name for themselves.


There’s much more to the North Shore than just surfing. 50+ beaches, farmer’s markets, hikes, food trucks, local boutiques, friendly residents, Hawaiian cultural landmarks, must-try shave ice and, of course, Oʻahu’s stunning natural beauty are all waiting for you.


Let’s start by discussing the major neighborhoods in the area so you can pick the best place to live on the North Shore.

Where to Live on Oʻahu’s North Shore 

Life may not be as convenient on the North Shore as it is in Honolulu—but it is a lot quieter. Residents enjoy a slower pace of life, with the northern coastline as their daily backdrop. 


Many who choose to live on the North Shore feel a deep connection to the ocean and build their lifestyles on being in, near, and around the water. For some, that means surfing as often as there are waves. (And paddling out even when there aren’t!) For others, that means spearfishing, foiling, swimming, diving, paddling, etc. whenever they can. You’ll find people enjoying the ocean all over the North Shore, no matter what neighborhood they live in. 


Where housing is concerned, you’ll find a mix of owners (47%) and renters (53%). Like most of Oʻahu, the vacancy rate is low (1%). If you see something you like, snag it quickly. 


To help you focus your search, we’ll take you on a quick tour of some of the more popular areas to live: 

Where to Work on Oʻahu

Perhaps you’re one of those lucky people relocating to Oʻahu for work. Or perhaps you’re a remote worker bringing your job with you. However, if you plan to look for a job on Oʻahu once you arrive, we’ve got some ideas to get you started.


Below, you’ll find a list of the biggest industries on Oʻahu—the likeliest targets for your job search:

Biggest Industries on Oʻahu 

  1. Government 
  2. Trade, transportation, and utilities 
  3. Leisure and hospitality 
  4. Education and health services 
  5. Professional and business services 


Honolulu is home to both the state and county governments, which is why you’ll find so many government employees on the island. The large majority of those jobs will be in town (Honolulu), which will mean a tough commute if you need to be in the office daily.  


Some North Shore residents work on Oʻahu’s military bases. Schofield Barracks is a pretty short drive from the North Shore—very doable on a daily basis. Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam is a bit farther, but it’s still feasible, especially if you live in Waialua or Haleʻiwa.  


If you’d rather stick close to the North Shore for employment, you’ll likely be in a job that supports the island’s tourism industry. Oʻahu welcomes anywhere from 2.3 million to 6.1 million visitors each year, and plenty of residents on the North Shore (and beyond!) hold jobs in leisure, hospitality, retail, etc. These positions aren’t always the most lucrative. However, if you’re new to the island, one of these jobs can be a good way to get your foot in the door. It will also allow you to establish a track record on Oʻahu that can act as a stepping stone to your next job. 

Where to Shop on the North Shore

With Foodland in Pūpūkea, gone are the days when you’d find only small, mom and pop stores on the North Shore. The convenience of large grocery stores like Foodland and Haleʻiwa’s Mālama Market is undeniable, but you’ll still find a bunch of small businesses on the North Shore that are more than worthy of your business. Some of our favorites include:

Matsumoto Shave Ice

This family-owned shop has been selling its popular shave ice in Haleʻiwa since 1951. Patrons line up in droves for the frozen treats that come out of this store, whose delicious syrups are made from 100% pure cane sugar. In our experience, it’s worth the wait! 

Want an inside look at the family behind the shave ice? Check out this interview with Remy Matsumoto, a third-generation family member who’s managing the business on the What School You Went? podcast, produced by PBS Hawaiʻi. 

Farmer’s Markets 

All along the North Shore, you’ll find farmer’s markets and produce stands. Cash is always welcome, but some vendors also accept Venmo and credit cards. Half the fun of the North Shore’s farmer’s markets is exploring your way around, stopping wherever looks enticing, and meeting the people behind the produce.

Of course, we’ve got a few recommendations to get you started. Try the Tuesday Market Waialua (Tuesdays in the Waialua United Church of Christ parking lot), the Waialua Farmer’s Co-Op Market (Saturdays at the Old Waialua Sugar Mill), and the Haleʻiwa Farmers Market (Thursdays).

Shrimp Trucks 

Tourist traps or a perfect North Shore lunch? We’ll leave it to you to decide! Either case, the North Shore’s shrimp trucks bring people from all over the island, largely to Kahuku, which has become the main hub for shrimp.

Bring cash and check out three of our favorites. (It’s practically a North Shore rite of passage!)

The Sunrise Shack 

For delicious bullet coffee, superfood smoothies, and smoothie bowls, head to the Sunrise Shack. Although you’ll now find the Sunrise Shack all over Oʻahu, the Sunset Beach location is the original. It’s a great, refreshing stop on a hot North Shore day. 

Haleʻiwa Town 

Sure, it can get a little touristy at times, but Haleʻiwa Town can also be a fun spot for browsing art galleries, poking through local boutiques, picking up surf gear, and more. The North Shore Marketplace and Haleʻiwa Town Center are two spots with a solid concentration of stores and restaurants, but you’ll find plenty of great independent spots in between, too. 

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Finding Fun Beyond the North Shore 

Of course, once you’re living on the North Shore, the whole island will be available to you. Check out our list of the top 10 activities to enjoy on Oʻahu for more ideas on how to spend your days off. 

Read more

What to Do on Oʻahu’s North Shore


Even though the North Shore is far removed from the hustle and bustle of Honolulu, there’s still plenty to do, especially if you love the outdoors.

Head to the Beach & Hop in the Water

You don’t have to be a pro surfer to enjoy the salt life on the North Shore. Snorkelers, paddlers, divers, swimmers, spearfishers, freedivers, body boarders, and all other kinds of watersports enthusiasts can all pursue their bliss at spots up and down the coast.


With more than 50 beaches to pick from, it can be tough to choose! Some of our favorites include:

  • Laniākea Beach to admire the honu (turtles) basking on the shore
  • Shark’s Cove for snorkeling and exploring the tide pools (great for the kids!)
  • ʻEhukai Beach for watching the best-of-the-best surfers hone their craft on big days at Pipeline


For a quieter beach experience, drive over to Mālaekahana State Recreation Area in Lāʻie. There, you’ll find a gorgeous white sand beach with restroom facilities—and plenty of room to find a serene stretch of beach.

Hike to Kaʻena Point

This bird sanctuary is a great place to take in the wilder side of Oʻahu. While you can approach the Kaʻena Point from the south, from the North Shore, it’s easiest to access the point through the Mokulēʻia Section. During the 2.7-mile hike along the volcanic coastline, you’ll spot tide pools, rocky coves, sand dunes, and plenty of wildlife. There’s very little shade and no potable water available, so go early and bring plenty of water.

Visit Waimea

Waimea Valley has a long, storied history—and a prominent place in Oʻahu’s history. Today, the valley is owned by a non-profit dedicated to preserving the resources of the valley. Visitors can enjoy this cultural and environmental resource by exploring the Hawaiian cultural sites in the valley, admiring the lush landscape, and, conditions permitting, swimming at Waimea Falls. The valley also hosts concerts, movie screenings, and moonlit walks to the falls, offering you even more reasons to visit.

Pu’u O Mahuka Heiau

Above Waimea Bay, you’ll find Pu’u O Mahuka (“hill of escape“) Heiau, the largest heiau (temple/place of worship) on the island. Admission to the site, with its interpretive signage and trails, is free. If you’re new to the Hawaiian Islands, Pu’u O Mahuka Heiau is a great place to learn about Hawaiian culture and history. Along with a visit to Waimea Valley, a trip to the heiau offers a glimpse into the past, when the Waimea Valley was a major population center on Oʻahu.

Grab a Pineapple at the Dole Plantation

Along with the Polynesian Cultural Center in Lāʻie, the North Shore has its share of tourist attractions, including the Dole Plantation. This operation in Wahiawā started as a small fruit stand in the middle of a large pineapple plantation.

Today, the plantation welcomes more than a million visitors each year. With a pineapple maze and a train tour, the Dole Plantation makes for an entertaining family outing for the day—especially if your kids love Dole Soft Serve. Or, save the Dole Plantation for when you’ve got visitors in town, which is when a lot of people in Hawaiʻi knock these more touristy items off their bucket lists.

Making the Most of Your North Shore Life

With its stunning natural beauty, proximity to Oʻahu’s gorgeous beaches, and laid-back vibe, living on the North Shore is an unforgettable experience. Once you get yourself settled, all that’s left is making the most of your time.

Need some help moving your belongings to the North Shore? Our Oʻahu team has moved individuals and families all over the island. We’d be happy to help you make a safe, easy, and affordable move to any location on the North Shore.

Just reach out to one of our Oʻahu experts for a complimentary quote to get started.

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